Take a Look at Me Now by Miranda Dickinson

"When the thing that was going to change my life arrived, it didn't look anything like I'd expected". 

The blurb

Nell Sullivan has always been known as 'Miss Five-Year Plan'. But when she finds herself jobless and newly single on the same day, Nell decides it is time to stop planning and start taking chances. 

Nell blows her redundancy cheque on a trip of a lifetime to a place where anything's possible - San Francisco. There she meets a host of colourful characters, including the intriguing and gorgeous Max Rossi. Very soon the city begins to feel like Nell's second home. 

But when it's time to return to London, will she leave the 'new Nell' behind? And can the magic of San Francisco continue to sparkle thousands of miles away? 

Becca's thoughts

First thing's first, the cover. I hate to admit it, and I know the old saying goes, "You should never judge a book by it's cover", but sometimes you just can't help it. The cover of Miranda Dickinson's fifth novel is absolutely beautiful. It shows an independent woman, doing her own thing, making her way through San Francisco. Not bad at all. I love the image of the Golden Gate Bridge in the background, which plays a big part in the later stages of the book. It also represents San Francisco; the place where Nell Sullivan makes things happen. 

Take a Look at Me Now is given to us in first person, from the very lovable Nell Sullivan's point of view. My edition was paperback, and was purchased from Asda. A brilliant 390 pages long, full of adventure, magic and excitement. 

Nell Sullivan sits down to her computer at work one morning to find a green post-it note stuck to her computer screen. Seeing that it's from Aidan Matthews, her on-off lover for the past 5 years and also her Line Manager, Nell begins imagining that maybe this is it, Aidan is going to declare his undying love for her, and their rocky road of a relationship is going to be a thing of the past. Turns out, Nell is very wrong. What's actually happening is she is being made redundant and Aidan is the one to break the news to her. Packing up her things, Nell doesn't know what to do. After always being known as 'Miss Five-Year Plan', Nell now doesn't know what's happening next week, never mind in the next five years. Feeling sporadic and slightly outrageous, she heads into a travel agents, and books a flight to San Francisco, where her cousin Lizzie lives. She plans to stay for 8 weeks, getting the most out of the experience before she returns to miserable London to the dreariness of job hunting and worrying about what she's going to do. The night before her flight leaves, Nell is lying in bed, pondering about the next 8 weeks of her life. 

"This is it Nell Sullivan, I told myself. Tomorrow my adventure begins."  

To me, jetting off to San Francisco is the ultimate adventure, and Miranda brings each and every detail to life in Take a Look at Me Now. The character of Nell Sullivan really put everything into perspective. Unfortunately, I am also being made redundant at this moment in time, so reading this when I did actually made things a little easier to deal with. I love it when you can connect with the characters, and I haven't read a single book by Miranda Dickinson where I haven't been able to. 

Nell Sullivan is the girl with the plan. She has everything mapped out and she's prepared for what life has to throw at her. Except losing her job. She's funny, she's down to earth and she is incredibly genuine too, which is a fantastic trait for fictional characters to have. The day she loses her job, she also loses Aidan. She gets herself all worked up and excited to be told that he loves her, and then he tells her she is no longer employed. How dreadful is that? No wonder she jumps on a plane and flys away. I would too. Nell is ambitious, and has dreams of her own, safely tucked away. No one knows about them, not even her best friend Vicky. I also found Nell very inspiring to say the least. You don't realise it at the start, but she's a real go-getter. She knows what she wants and how she wants it. She has that drive, that power to keep pushing, and I loved that about her. She's a brilliant woman. I just wanted to be in San Francisco with her. 

Miranda lights up the setting with her descriptions of San Francisco, making it impossible for you not to feel like you're there with Nell. She mentions the "warm Californian sun" and "the glittering cityscape of San Francisco" and it's hard to not fall in love with the place. Throughout the story the setting is constantly spoken about; what the characters can smell and see, what they can hear. It's amazing, and Miranda makes it feel so, so real. You've got to be lying if you say you don't want to go to San Francisco after reading Take a Look at Me Now. 

The mix of characters that Nell meets when she arrives in San Francisco is brill. There's lots of new faces and characters that you're introduced to. There's Nell's cousin, Lizzie. There's Max Rossie. There's the children of the S-O-S club, who are adorable, and there's the old couple, the Alfaros too! You get a real feel of community spirit whilst reading and it's just heartwarming. I didn't want the story to come to and end. 

I'm giving Miranda Dickinson an easy 9/10 for this. A perfect girly chick-lit novel about a woman finding her place in the world, and making her dreams become a reality. It's inspiring, thought-provoking, and it makes you look at your life and think, "I need to do something like this!" 

Buying links for Take a Look at Me Now
Paperback - Take a Look at Me Now
Kindle Edition - Take a Look at Me Now

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